What Is Neuroplasticity In Stroke?
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by growing new
neural connections throughout life. This process allows the neurons (nerve
cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their
activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.
Neuroplasticity occurs as a result of experience or damaging events, such as a stroke. When
part of the brain is damaged, neuroplasticity enables the brain to reorganize
and compensate for the lost function. For example, after a stroke, new neural
connections can be created to bypass the area of damage. This process is known
as neuronal sprouting.
Neuroplasticity is a continuous process that occurs throughout life. It is
highest during childhood and adolescence, when the brain is growing and
learning new information. However, it also occurs in adults, who can continue
to learn new information and skills.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself in response to changes in environment, sensation, or motor activity. It allows the nervous system to compensate for injury and adapt to new situations. When a stroke occurs, neuroplasticity can help the brain relearn lost functions.
There are two types of neuroplasticity:
1. Structural plasticity refers to changes in the actual structure of the brain. This can occur after a stroke when new connections are made between healthy neurons to compensate for the loss of damaged ones.
2. Functional plasticity refers to changes in how the brain functions. This can happen when a stroke affects one side of the brain and the other side starts taking over some of its functions.
Both types of neuroplasticity are important for stroke recovery. The extent to which they occur depends on the severity of the stroke and the individual’s natural ability to recover.
There are several therapies that can help promote neuroplasticity and improve stroke recovery, including:
1. Constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT): This therapy involves constraining the use of the unaffected arm and hand while working on tasks with the affected side. By forcing the use of the affected side, CIMT helps promote neuroplasticity and improve function.
2. Mirror therapy: This therapy uses mirrors to reflect movements made by the unaffected side of the body onto the affected side. This creates the illusion that the affected side is moving, which can help retrain the brain and improve function.
3. Robotics: Robotics can be used to help a person practice movement and relearn lost skills. Therapeutic robots can provide feedback and assistance while a person is working on tasks, which can help improve their ability to learn new skills.
4. Brain stimulation: Brain stimulation therapies, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), can help promote neuroplasticity and improve stroke recovery. TMS uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain, while tDCS uses electrical current. Both therapies have been shown to improve motor function after a stroke.
By promoting neuroplasticity, these therapies can help improve stroke recovery and enable people to regain lost function.